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Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson pleads not guilty to federal indictment during heated arraignment

Lawyers argued about whether Thompson must surrender his passport while awaiting trial. It’s a routine request, but his attorney called it “just punitive.” The judge gave Thompson a week to turn in his passport — and his FOID card.

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson.
Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson.
Sun-Times file

Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges related to a failed Bridgeport bank during an unusually contentious arraignment Thursday.

Lawyers argued during the hearing — held by telephone before U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama — about whether Thompson should have to turn his passport over to the government while awaiting trial.

The condition is routine for defendants charged in federal court. But defense attorney Chris Gair called it “just punitive.”

Gair also asked the judge about a trial date after repeatedly saying he wants to clear Thompson’s name.

Meanwhile, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Netols told the judge Thompson had declined to be interviewed by court personnel ahead of the hearing, telling the judge the alderman “doesn’t want to participate in the process” and “made your job more difficult.”

Gair retorted: “We’re the ones who want a trial, and want it now.”

Valderrama ruled Thompson must turn over his passport and firearm owner’s identification card by May 20. He also told the lawyers to be ready to discuss trial dates at the next status hearing, set for June 10.

Thompson was accused in a bombshell indictment late last month of lying to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and filing false income tax returns in which he lied about paying more than $170,000 in mortgage interest over five years.

The indictment made him the highest-profile figure to face criminal charges in connection with the clout-heavy Washington Federal Bank for Savings in Bridgeport, which was shut down in 2017 over what authorities say was a massive fraud scheme.

Prosecutors have said three people charged in connection with that alleged fraud are expected to testify against Thompson.

The grandson and nephew of Chicago’s two longest-serving mayors, Thompson is also the only member of the Daley family ever charged with a federal crime. Thompson denied the accusations after his indictment on April 29.

“My conscience is clear,” Thompson said in a statement. “I did not commit any crime, I am innocent, and I will prove it at trial.”

Thompson is charged with five counts of filing false tax returns and two counts of lying to the FDIC. The indictment alleges he received $219,000 from the bank between 2011 and 2014 — before he was elected to the Chicago City Council in 2015 — through a purported loan and other unsecured payments.

The indictment alleges Thompson made only one payment on a loan but failed to pay any interest. Then, after federal regulators shut down the bank in December 2017, the FDIC tried to collect the money from Thompson. The alderman allegedly said he only owed around $110,000 and that he’d used the money for home improvements.

But Thompson knew he received $219,000 and “$110,000 was paid to a law firm” as Thompson’s capital contribution, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleged that Thompson claimed in federal tax returns for the years 2013 through 2017 to have paid more than $170,000 in mortgage interest. Washington Federal, founded back in 1913, allegedly sent IRS forms to Thompson that falsely accounted for the mortgage interest payments.

Copies of such forms are sent to the IRS, the indictment noted.

Federal regulators shut down Washington Federal less than two weeks after John F. Gembara — its president, chief executive officer and major shareholder — was found dead, seated in a chair, a rope around his neck, in the master bedroom of the $1 million Park Ridge home of his bank customer and friend, Marek Matczuk.

Matczuk had five outstanding loans from Washington Federal totaling about $1.8 million. An investigation of the bank so far has resulted in federal charges against 10 other individuals, including Matczuk.

In his statement, Thompson said he had been indicted over “inadvertent tax preparation errors and my incorrect memory about the amount of a personal bank loan.”

Contributing: Tim Novak